|Review from portlandfoodanddrink.com
First Impressions: Five-O-Three
Posted Friday, November 16th, 2007
By Laurel Barton
On a recent visit to Five-O-Three, it scored a hit in creativity, service, atmosphere, and most of all in seasonal food prepared and presented impeccably. This eatery in a newly renovated strip-mall-cum-life-style-center delivered a dining experience seldom found in the suburbs. Settling into a cozy booth, our foursome selected an Oregon wine from a respectable list. (Although I have to wonder if West Linn ready for a $95 bottle of pinot noir.) An amuse-bouche of baby chanterelles drizzled with white truffle oil and herbs seemed over-the-top for our jeans-wearing group, but one taste and we knew we were in for a special experience. Opening with squash soup, surprisingly garnished with cranberries and creme fraiche, we moved on to three entrees: New York strip for each of the men, bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with squash puree and sweet potato crisps, and (for me!) beef short ribs with horseradish crust, sauteed spinach and potato gratin. Lest the NY strip sound ordinary, the sides and presentation were noteworthy. Served abed collard greens and with crisp fried potato chunks, the steak was sliced across the grain to reveal its warm pink center and was further graced with mustard sauce. Our Oregon Tempranillo complemented each dish nicely. My spinach was tender, a little sweet, laced with savory red onions. Perhaps the best restaurant spinach I've eaten. The chef's creativity shown in the thoughtful individuality of side dishes for each entree. No predictable side-of-spuds and asparagus for all! Everything was beautifully presented, down to the right plate for each dish.
Dessert was similarly pleasing. Usually we share two desserts among the four of us, but tonight the menu spoke to each of us in a different way. Molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream was simplicity on the plate and decadence on the palate. Cobbler encompassed apples and blueberries, warmed just a touch and served with orange creme. Peanut butter pie was a fluffy, peanutty individualized tart completely encased in a fudgey coating. On a truly unique seasonal note, delicate, warm pumpkin fritters were served with spiced ice cream and candied pumpkin seeds.
Service was excellent, if a little over-orchestrated. At least two servers approached the table with each course, ensuring simultaneous delivery. Thoughtfully, a shared soup course was split between each pair of diners, eliminating slurping out of the same bowl and fighting for territory. The menu includes several appetizers, three salads, and additional entrees, such as scallops, roasted chicken, duck, halibut and more, each with carefully composed sides and creative flavor combinations.
The atmosphere is warm and inviting, casual yet smart. It looks like they'll have outdoor space during the warm months. This was a first visit. Sustaining quality and creativity will be key. We'll go back and when we do, I'll report on changes, good or not-so-good. For now, I wish 5-0-3 all the best. There is always room for a non-formula restaurant that challenges the palate and clearly cares about what it serves and how it is served.
* Phone: 503-607-0960
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